CC.No.466 of 2007
Y.S.C. Bose Reddy,
S/o Ramalinga Reddy,
R/o Flat No.406,
1st line, Vidyanagar,
Guntur. … Complainant
1. The District Insurance Officer,
A.P.G.L.I., Govt. of A.P.,
H.No.6-4-101, 1st floor,
5/2 Arundelpet, Guntur.
2. District Leprosy Officer,
Department of Medical & Health,
District Medical & Health Office,
Nagarampalem, Guntur. …Opposite Parties
This complaint is coming up before us for hearing on 06.11.2009 Sri B. K. Kishore, advocate for complainant and of Sri Ch. Bolla Rao, Government pleader are having on record, upon perusing the material on record and having stood over till this day for consideration this Forum made the following:-
O R D E R
Per Sri T. Anjaneyulu, President:- This complaint is U/S 12 of Consumer Protection Act, 1986 by the complainant seeking directions on the opposite party for payment of Rs.12,00,000/- as compensation with interest thereon and expenses.
The brief facts of the case are that the complainant worked as non-medical supervisor (Dy, Para Medical Officer) of Government Leprosy Control Unit, Macherla in the unit of 2nd opposite party. He has taken voluntary retirement from the service on 31-3-01. During his service he has worked at various places in Guntur district and at other places of Andhra Pradesh. As per Government norms every employee of State Government should contribute their subscription through APGLI basing on the salary of the employee to the 1st opposite party i.e., the District Insurance Officer. The complainant has worked in the Department for more than 29 years in various places. His monthly subscription at Rs.28/- was being deducted towards APGLI in the beginning of his service and subsequently it was enhanced to Rs.64/- pm. He was also allotted policy No.434076. The monthly subscriptions were deducted regularly till the date of retirement. The complainant has not taken any loan from the 1st opposite party.
It is submitted that after his retirement he did not receive any amount from the 1st opposite party. He has approached the 1st opposite party personally number of times, the staff of the 1st opposite party did not respond properly. The complainant sent a letter dated 11-10-06 requesting to settle the account of APGLI and the copy of said letter was also marked to the 1st opposite party. Both opposite parties have received but they did not respond to the same.
On 2-1-07, the complainant has applied for details of APGLI account under R.T.I. Act, 2005. Both the opposite parties have received application of the complainant and the 1st opposite party sent a letter dated 5-3-07 along with cheque issued in favour of complainant for Rs.12,776/- bearing No.019748, dt.5-03-07. The 1st opposite party sent a statement of account from 1989 to 2000. The complainant surprised to look at statement sent by the 1st opposite party. The 1st opposite party did not furnish full information regarding the account. After receipt of account copy he again approached the 2nd opposite party to furnish full details of statement of account by his letter dated 15-3-07 under R.T.I. Act, 2005. The 2nd opposite party addressed a letter to the 1st opposite party regarding particulars of subscriptions recovered under APGLI vide lr.Ref.No.Spl./2007, dt.31-03-07. The complainant once again sent a letter to the 1st opposite party requesting to issue a cheque for remaining amount with interest which is pending with them. Surprisingly the 1st opposite party sent a letter dated 10-04-07 to the complainant stating to furnish the details of premiums under sub.A/c with Major Head/voucher Nos./Challan Nos./date of premium particulars deducted.
The complainant submits that he worked as executive employee in the Department of 2nd opposite party. All such details got to be maintained by the concerned department only. He has no personal knowledge regarding transactions between the 1st opposite party and the 2nd opposite party about deduction of premiums with treasury account. The 1st opposite party is well aware of the same, but in order to evade their responsibility required the complainant to furnish the same. The above acts constitute deficiency and negligence of service on the part of opposite parties. The complainant has suffered mental agony and also financial loss. The complainant again wrote a letter dated 13-04-07 to both the opposite parties making request to settle the claim. But they did not do so. Therefore, complainant is claiming Rs.7,00,000/- towards deficiency and negligence of opposite party and Rs.5,00,000/- for mental agony, pain and suffering, in all Rs.12,00,000/-. Hence, the complaint.
1st opposite party filed its version/affidavit through its Deputy Director. It is stated that the complainant who worked as D.P.M.O. GLC Unit, Macherla voluntarily retired on 31-3-01. He was contributing a sum of Rs.28/- pm towards APGLI policy No.434076 with effect from 1989-90. The subscriber has applied for claim with policy No.434076 on 11-10-06. The case was settled and cheque was sent to the complainant on 05-03-07 vide Cheque b.No.AO 19748, dt.05-03-07 for Rs.12,776/-. It is further submitted that the A.P. State Commission, Hyderabad and District Consumer Forum III at Hyderabad in F.A.No.197/01 against CD.No.1479/2000 and CD.No.727/04 respectively have pronounced that the District Forum has no jurisdiction since APGLI policy holder is not a consumer under Consumer Protection Act as there is no hiring of service of the opposite party. Therefore, the complainant is not entitled to file this case.
The complainant has made false allegations claiming Rs.12,00,000/-. All the allegations made in the complaint are baseless. This is not a consumer dispute. Therefore, it is prayed to dismiss the complaint.
OP2 has filed a memo to adopt the version of 1st opposite party. Both sides have filed their respective affidavits. On behalf of complainant Exs.A-1 to A-6 are marked and on behalf of opposite party Exs.B-1 to B-4 are marked.
Now the points for consideration are that,
1. Whether this Forum has no jurisdiction to entertain the dispute raised by the complainant?
2. Whether the complainant is entitled for the amount as sought for?
3. To what relief?
POINT No.1:- This issue goes to root of the case as objection is raised in respect of jurisdiction of this Forum to entertain the dispute. The learned Government Pleader relied upon a decision of Hyderabad Forum rendered in CD.727/04 in between Smt Manjula vs. Assistant Director/Insurance and Commissioner, State Insurance, APGLI, Government of AP.
In this case the complainant is the wife of late Dr. M. Srinivasa Naik, Former Medical Officer, Martur, Prakasam District filed a complaint claiming insurance sum from APGLI after death of her husband. The APGLI requested the Medical Officer, PHC, Martur to furnish the information with regard to policy, date of death of employee etc. It is informed by the employer that the deceased sent proposal form, as such, the policy was not issued even though he had regularly contributed Rs.125/- towards APGLI from May, 2002 to October, 2002 at Martur as a new case. The APGLI also raised similar objection about jurisdiction to entertain the case. In that case it was observed on facts that there was no evidence that any APGLI policy was issued in the name of deceased employee. It was also held that the deceased employee did not hire any services from the opposite party and any consideration paid. Therefore, there is no hiring of service from the opposite party by the husband of complainant. In that circumstance of the case, the complaint was dismissed.
But in the instant case, complainant was issued policy and as he was regularly contributing amounts towards APGLI which is mandatory for every Government employee as per G.O.Ms.No.368, 15-11-94 and subsequent memos issued by the Department of Finance, A.P. Government.
The learned Government Pleader for the opposite parties next relied upon the decision reported by AP State Commission in the case of Deputy Director of Insurance, Regional Office at Hyderabad and Sri Byram Rajanna in FA.No.197/01, a similar issue was raised about jurisdiction of Consumer Forum to entertain such kind of disputes. The counsel appearing for APGLI therein relied upon earlier decision of State Commission rendered in FA.160/96 dated 20-05-96 in which it was held that, complainant is not a consumer. The said decision is said to have been held up by the National Commission in RP.No.604/96, dt.20-01-97, in that context the State Commission while abiding by the said Judgement held that complainant is not a consumer.
But as examined on facts of the case, complainant was originally contributing a sum of Rs.112/- pm., from 22-09-88 and obtained a policy. Subsequently, he has enhanced Rs.88/- from February, 1996 and demanded for revised policy. As per G.O.Ms.No.368, dated 15-11-94 certain restrictions imposed in respect of age group of employees in between 21 to 48 years. It was the contention of opposite party that as per the said GO revised policy can be issued for enhanced amount of Rs.200/-. In that context the above Judgement was rendered by the State Commission.
In the instant case, there is no dispute about issuing policy b.No.434076 A in favour of complainant. The State Commission in a decision reported in 1998 ALD (Cons.) 24 Director of Insurance, A.P. Government, Hyderabad vs. G. Vijaya Lakshmi held that a complaint against AP Life Insurance Department for non-payment of insurance amount can be entertained under the Act, since it is a service within the meaning of the term U/S 2(1)(o) of Consumer Protection Act. It has relied upon number of decisions of the Apex Court in order to know as to what constitutes the ‘service’. Therefore, we hold that this Forum has jurisdiction to entertain this complaint.
POINT No.2:- The case of complainant is that he took voluntary retirement from service on 31-03-01. While he was in service he was contributing Rs.28/- pm in the beginning and subsequently as his salary increased the premium of insurance was also increased to a tune of Rs.64/- pm., by the time of his retirement. He claims that he has approached number of times the 1st opposite party at Guntur for payment of policy amount, but they have not responded properly. Having waited for sufficient time he sent a letter to his employer on 11-10-06 for settlement of his claim while marking copy to 1st opposite party. But there was no response. Thereafter he claims to have applied for furnishing the details of his account on 01-02-07 under Right to Information Act, 2005 and thereupon he has received a letter from 1st opposite party on 05-03-07 wherein a cheque for Rs.12,776/- was sent while enclosing premium settlement under Ex.A-1. But complainant astonished on seeing at the statement of premium which is not in complete. As such, he again approached his employer i.e., 2nd opposite party to furnish full details of his account right from the beginning by addressing letter dated 15-03-07 (A2). In this letter it is stated that he formerly worked as Non-Medical Supervisor (D.P.M.O), Government Leprosy Control Unit, Macherla and retired from service on 31-03-01, while he was working amounts were recovered towards APGLI from his salary. He has also furnished the period and the centers where he worked. Further, it is stated that Leprosy Control units were abolished and entire record is with the District Leprosy Office is at Guntur as such, he requested to furnish detail information as to recovery of premiums month wise. Thereupon, 2nd opposite party addressed a letter to the 1st opposite party on 31-03-07 vide Ex.A-3 stating that complainant has subscribed to APGLI @Rs.28/- pm in the following stations as detailed below towards policy A/c.No.434076-A. Hence, final claim may be settled to the individual under intimation to that office.
Thereupon the complainant once again sent a letter to the 1st opposite party stating that difficulties faced by him in approaching their office for refund of amount, though he has applied on 11-10-06 for the policy amount and same has not been responded properly. It is also stated that he has approached their office number of times, but proved futile. Lastly, he has requested to examine his case once again and clear the balance amount with interest. On receipt of such letter 1st opposite party sent a letter dated 10-04-07 vide Ex.-5 stating that premium particulars were not available in their office at Guntur, as such, he was required to furnish information with regard to remission of premiums from May, 1982 to March, 1989. The complainant replied to that letter stating that he is a retired employee and it is not possible to submit information as required. He has claimed the policy amount on the basis of information furnished by his employer vide reference No.3, as such, the same may be settled at the earliest time vide Ex.A-6 dated 13-04-07.
The opposite party relied upon form No.1 vide Ex.B-1 which is an application for refund of amount to be filled by the subscriber. In this form the subscriber mentioned his policy number, date of maturity of the policy, date of termination of service 31-03-01. The last deduction of premium of Rs.60/-. Further he has also given details as to the place where he worked and its period. This application was filled up on 11-10-06. Thereupon the 1st opposite party while computing the policy amount deducted certain amount and sent a cheque for Rs.12,776/- on 05-03-07 as stated supra. This is evident from Ex.B-2 which shows that the sum assured, bonus amount aggregating in all Rs.14,168.68 ps., and deduction of total amount of Rs.1,392/- and net amount is Rs.12,776/-. Ex.B-4 is the statement of treasury account.
From the above material on record, it appears that as complainant retired voluntarily on 31-03-01 and as policy maturity date is 04-07-02, the claim has been settled as surrender/present value of the policy interms of Rule 22 of APGLI Fund Rules vide cheque bearing No.A019748, dated 05-03-07 and the said cheque has been encashed by the complainant on 15-3-07. This is evident from the letter addressed to this Forum by the O/O Joint Director of Insurance, Guntur on 19-12-07, the calculation also shown including the bonus amount. According to them no terminal bonus and bonus for breaking period of Triennium was not allowed for surrender claim as per GO.Ms.No.160 Finance & Planning FW (ADMN II) Dept.,, dated 14-05-96. The copy is not placed before us as it is not available with them.
As seen from the case of the complainant, he has been going round the office of 1st opposite party ever since, he has retired and ultimately made a written representation on 11-10-06, 01-02-07 and on 15-03-07. Though he has furnished all details i.e., place of employment including the period, the 1st opposite party persistently asking for information about remittance of premiums under Major Head, treasury token etc. As seen from the above material, 2nd opposite party also furnished information required and requested for settlement of claim. The case of complainant is that as to whatever amount sent by the 1st opposite party is not full amount of his policy and still there is balance pending with them. As he contributed at Rs.60/- but the 1st opposite party is not making it clear whether it has issued any subsequent policies for enhanced premium amount which was being deducted from out of his salary by the time of his retirement. This material is lacking on record. Thus we observe that there is any amount of lethargy, lapses and carelessness in functioning of 1st opposite party to settle the claims of employees under APGLI scheme. Certainly this would cause physical strain, mental agony, pain and suffering which is to be compensated suitably.
In the light of aforesaid discussions, this complaint is disposed of with the following directions:
1. The 1st opposite party shall verify and reconcile with the statement of account on the information furnished by the 2nd opposite party as to the deduction of the premium amount and settle the balance claim for enhanced premium as early as possible.
2. We also direct the 1st opposite party to pay compensation of Rs.3,000/- (Rupees three thousand only) and costs of Rs.1000/- (Rupees one thousand only) to the complainant. Rest of the claim for compensation is dismissed.
3. The amounts ordered in item No.2 shall be paid within a period of six weeks failing which they shall carry interest @9% p.a., from the date till the date of realization.
Dictated to steno typist, transcribed by her, corrected by me and pronounced in the open Forum dated this the 9th day of November, 2009.